Car Dealer Guilty in Campaign Finance Scandal - NBC 7 San Diego

Car Dealer Guilty in Campaign Finance Scandal

Marc Chase of Symbolic Motor Cars entered a guilty plea in federal court



    Car Dealer Guilty in Campaign Finance Scandal

    On Thursday, luxury car dealer Marc Chase pleaded guilty in a high-profile campaign finance scandal. Chase admitted to playing front man for a Mexican developer seeking political influence. NBC 7 political reporter Gene Cubbison explains why he could receive a lenient sentence. (Published Thursday, April 10, 2014)

    A San Diego car dealer has pleaded guilty in a campaign finance scandal in which a foreign millionaire is accused of funneling $500,000 into political campaigns.

    Marc Chase, 52, owner of Symbolic Motor Cars on La Jolla Boulevard, appeared in federal court Thursday and pleaded guilty to 8 misdemeanor counts.

    Chase admitted to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions with cash paid to him by a foreign businessman.

    “He made a mistake,” said Chase’s defense attorney Guadalupe Valencia. " He’s accepting responsibility and he hopes to move forward someday."

    Car Dealer Gets Lawyer Amid Scandal

    [DGO]Car Dealer Gets Lawyer Amid Scandal
    A La Jolla car dealer implicated in a campaign finance scandal has hired one of San Diego's best-known criminal defense lawyers. NBC 7 has learned that attorney Michael Pancer now represents Marc Chase, owner of Symbolic Motor Cars. Prosecutors say a Mexican citizen pumped more than $500,000 into local campaigns, a violation of U.S. election laws. He also loves fast, expensive cars, which may have cemented his relationship with the car dealer. NBC 7’s Megan Tevrizian has more.
    (Published Monday, Jan. 27, 2014)

    Prosecutors say a billionaire Mexican businessman, identified as Jose Susumo Azano, funneled more than $500,000 into local campaigns. It is illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to U.S. elections.

    On Thursday, Chase admitted that, between Dec. 29, 2011 and Jan. 2, 2012, he recruited people to donate $500 each to hide the source of the funds.

    Employees, relatives and acquaintances helped make the contributions for Azano to campaigns for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, former mayor Bob Filner and U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas.

    Chase admitted in court that he made three large contributions totaling $180,000 in September and October 2012.

    Court documents show Anzano wrote a $380,000 check to “Symbolic” on Oct. , 2012 which Chase deposited. Part of that money was to reimburse Chase, officials said. The rest was to pay for a painting Chase had previously sold Azano.

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    Today's campaign finance hearing revealed new information about city hall lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, who's been in jail without bail since Tuesday. NBC 7's Mari Payton explains why the FBI had a big problem with that defendant.
    (Published Friday, Jan. 24, 2014)

    Prosecutors say Susumo Azano hoped his contributions would give him the inside track to develop high-rise buildings on the San Diego bayfront.

    Three others, including a former San Diego Police Department detective and a City Hall lobbyist, are accused of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States.

    As part of a plea agreement, Chase was released on his own recognizance.

    Chase is not permitted to travel outside the continental U.S. without permission and the judge ordered him to undergo psychological counseling or therapy as part of the plea deal.

    Chase and his company have raised millions and millions of dollars over the years for children and lots of other causes, Valencia said.

    Finance Scandal Aimed to Create Miami West

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    (Published Friday, Jan. 24, 2014)

    “He’s hoping that this case doesn’t tarnish that image and the good work they’ve done over many, many years,” he said.

    His sentencing hearing was scheduled for November 13. He faces up to eight years in prison and $800,000 in fines, officials said.

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